While the media may have covered the disastrous affair of CIA Director David Petraeus and his biographer Paula Broadwell in detail, it overlooked his successful effort to further militarize the Central Intelligence Agency(CIA.) “Petraeus …leaves behind an agency that has strayed from intelligence to paramilitary activities,” reports Jeremy Scahill in The Nation.
He writes the CIA has been embroiled in a behind-the-scenes struggle with the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command(JSOC) “for control of the expanding global wars being waged by the United States.”
As Wikipedia notes, JSOC’s primary mission, “is believed to be identifying and destroying terrorists and terror cells worldwide.” As such, it has been known to work cooperatively at times with CIA’s Special Activities Division but lately the two agencies are said to be battling each other for supremacy.
Scahill cites several former intelligence officers to make this point. “A considerable part of the CIA budget is now no longer spying, it’s supporting paramilitaries who work closely with JSOC to kill terrorists, and to run the drone program,” he quotes retired career CIA case officer Philip Giraldi as saying. The CIA, adds Giraldi, “is a killing machine now.” (Q:When wasn’t it?) And retired Army Col. W. Patrick Lang opined Petraeus “wanted to drag them (CIA) in the covert action direction and to be a major player.”
Scahill recalled it was Petraeus as head of the U.S. Central Command in 2009 who broadened the military’s ability to operate in more countries, including Yemen, where drone strikes later “escalated dramatically.” In his first month as head of the CIA Petraeus okayed a series of drone strikes in Yemen that killed three U.S. citizens including Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, age 16.
And one unnamed State Department liaison official who worked extensively with JSOC said the CIA is becoming “a miniature JSOC that purports to be an intelligence agency” and that Petraeus’s real legacy is as a “political tool,” making him, Scahill writes, “an enabler of those in the national security apparatus who want to see global mini-wars continue.”
In Yemen, last May, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism(BIJ), London, reported how a double U.S. drone strike there killed 12 civilians and injured 21 more in the city of Jaar. “Witnesses said the first strike targeted alleged militants meeting in a house. Civilians who had flocked to the impact site were killed in a follow-up strike,” the BIJ reported. Surely, this is war without mercy, as there is every likelihood that medical personnel rushing to aid the victims, as well as firefighters, family, and friends, are liable to be killed as well.
The Yemen strike was reminiscent of U.S. strategy in Pakistan. On at least a dozen occasions there, twin strikes killed at least 50 civilians. The civilians died, BIJ said, when they rushed to help victims of an initial attack and were hit by a second, follow-up strike. Since 2002, BIJ has recorded up to 746 people killed in U.S. strikes in Yemen. At least 117 of the dead are civilians, 24 of them children. Of course, nobody in Washington got on Petraeus’s case for these slayings.
Despite all he did to improve the CIA as an illegal killing machine, Petraeus just had to go. It was his love affair, not his refinements in the art of killing in the service of the Empire, that was the headline-grabbing scandal that doomed his career.
His criminal commission of drone strikes to kill people in somebody’s else’s country without the benefit of legal authorization, much less a trial for the legally innocent victims—is regarded as unworthy of mention by our presstitute media. His fall from grace and power is sure to instruct future command officers to stick to the ugly business of making war, not love.
Sherwood Ross is an award-winning reporter. He served in the U.S Air Force where he contributed to his base newspaper. He later worked for The Miami Herald and Chicago Daily News. He contributed a weekly column on working for a major wire service. He is also an editorial and book publicist. He currently resides in Florida.